I Miss The Thrill Of One-Night Stands

Some of the best sex of my life has been with people I barely knew. After a year of pandemic sexual limbo, I’m ready for that thrill again.

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The pandemic has, let’s be honest, worked in the favour of couples.

When there was a brief relaxation of lockdown rules which allowed couples to sleep over at each other’s houses, those of us who were very much single were still kept in sexual limbo, unable to have one-night stands because it’s illegal, or something like that.

All this time in lockdown means there’s going to be huge numbers of people who’ve gone nearly a year without even the hint of a shag. Imagine how thirsty we’ll be when we’re back on the dancefloor boogying to Lady Gaga’s Chromatica era for the first time?

There’s few things I’ve missed more than the magic of locking eyes with someone for the first time, glimmers of attraction developing, brushing their arm at the bar, and edging in anticipation towards the dancefloor.

I’ve had some of the best sex of my life with people I’d only just met, people I only knew in passing, and even some mates. I think there’s something in the ‘fuck it’ bit of our brains which seems to be activated by precisely four double vodka cranberries that allows us to indulge in these chaotic but fun experiences with people we might never see again – or even maybe will.

“Knowing there’s no specific consequences and expectations from a guilt-free shag is one of life’s best realisations.”

I’ve learned some really important lessons early on into the art of mastering the one-night stand. Try to resist wearing mesh tops, for one – yes, you look really hot on the night but the next morning’s walk of shame will be all the worse when you’re clad in a completely see-through shimmer top. Second, go back to your own house if you feel more comfortable doing so – men rarely have condoms (plural) kicking about in their drawers, and there’s also nothing more earth-shattering than being gently kicked out of someone’s house when you just want to curl up and wallow a bit longer. Most importantly, I promise no one gives a shit if you haven’t shaved your legs.

Knowing there’s no specific consequences and expectations from a guilt-free shag is one of life’s best realisations. You can try things you haven’t tried before, learn what you really want – and truly enjoy – in the bedroom. God forbid the extremely likely event something a bit embarrassing does happen, but it doesn’t even matter because we’ve all been there. There is no room for judgement in the one-night stand club.

My most liberating moment came in the middle of one particular conquest when I realised nobody else cared about my weight. A friend of a friend who was staying in the city for the weekend came back to mine after a night out and, when we were in bed together, I admitted I felt insecure about my stomach. “Why? What’s wrong with it?” he asked.

I can’t remember my response but I was probably waffling about my ex. The breakdown of my long-distance relationship left me confused as to how I felt within myself, and beating myself up for characteristics he didn’t like just when he found fault in what I was now realising is a perfectly normal size 14-16 body. Through my sporadic shags, I really did start to like and respect myself again – and I finally realised other people did too.

“Sometimes you do get your heart broken, but I learned never to regret choices I believed were right in the moment.”

There have, of course, been the times where it hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations. The guy I already knew who promised he wanted to see me again, only to then turn straight back when he saw me on-shift at the student bar not four hours later, for example. Or the guy I finally slept after pining for him months, only for him to ask to leave about an hour later.

Sometimes you do get your heart broken, but I learned never to regret choices I believed were right in the moment. None of us should. Flings with people we end up fancying (before or after) can help us handle being rejected in a less intense way than when dating someone and feelings are involved – most short-lived arrangements won’t turn into lengthy relationships and most of us know that, really. And anyway, you don’t need to think about that until the morning after.

What does the post-coronavirus future hold for the one-night stand? We might think twice before sleeping with people we don’t really know. It’s clear the pandemic and constant uncertainty surrounding our lives has made us more wary of each other’s motives in every aspect of life.

Safety will be key too. The idea of not entering into something we’re not comfortable with will be even more present now, even though it always should be. Most people, luckily, are decent human beings, and so I’m sure one-night stands will be back before we know it. And so will I, overpriced vodka cranberry in my hand once again.

Charlotte Manning is a journalist, writing on TV, entertainment, education, sex and relationships.

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